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Who Nicked Our Photo

We recently spent some time in Spain preparing the property we own for the summer rental season. We found plenty of things to do to make sure the villa looks its best and is all ready to welcome our guests this summer. You will be pleased to hear that we did manage to find some time to enjoy the sun.

As you may know we regularly update the photos we use to promote the villa and last summer we took a particularly striking one that has garnered many compliments. We’ve used it since then as our lead photo on our website, listings on rental portals and as our Facebook profile picture. So you can imagine our surprise when we spotted our photo prominently displayed on an A board owned by an Estate Agent based in the same area as the villa. What’s more it is a business that we have never had any dealings with.

We own the copyright to the photo and have not given the business permission to use it.

This government website makes it clear that we own the copyright both here and in Spain.

We are currently engaged in making sure the board is not used anymore.

Even if we had been asked for permission to use the photo we would not have given it.

The photo has become our brand, a recognisable photo that we use to illustrate our villa every time we need to do so. If you like it is our logo and we wouldn’t let another business use our logo.

The whole saga has told us something about the business who stole the photo. It may only be us that know what they have done but would a reputable business be unaware of European copyright law or use a photo of a product they don’t or have never sold?

By using our photo they are also guilty of misrepresentation. You wouldn’t expect McDonalds to use a photo of a Burger King Burger in their advertising. You can’t advertise something that you do not sell.

An Estate Agent will own the copyright of photos of any number of properties that they have recently sold or let. It would be easy to supply a good photo of a property to use on the board.  Or if they did admire a photo why not take or commission a similar one of a property they have available to rent.  What will they say if someone asks them about the property on their board and if it is available to rent or buy? Yes I know – probably tell them it was a sale and no longer available.

The use of a photo to which they have no licence to use tells us a lot about the business who stole it.

1.       They don’t realise the power, impact and message images deliver.

2.       A proper business would be aware of all rules and laws of governing their business.

3.       They are too lazy to find a good image of their own.

4.       Obviously the photos they take of properties aren’t good enough for publication, begging the question of whether they are good enough to sell the property.

5.       The owners are rude and unresponsive.


Images are powerful and are becoming increasingly so. Make sure the images you use in your marketing are the best that you can find, take or obtain legally. More importantly make sure they don’t give out the wrong message about your business.  They should be unique photos for your business showing your products or services.

Rant over.

If you want to know more about using images we wrote this article some time ago. Thanks to the research we did for that we knew where we stood when we contacted the offending business.

This article was originally published as a LinkedIn post.





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